Press Release: Sea Delight Representative Attends the 15th Annual WCPFC Meeting

Stephen Fisher addresses Swordfish and Mahi mahi concerns regarding sustainability during annual WCPFC Meeting.

January 4, 2019 – Miami, FL. Sea Delight Sustainability Director, Stephen Fisher, was invited to attend the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) 15th Regular Session of the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. The meeting was held in the Honolulu Convention Center in Hawaii, USA.

15th Annual WCPFC Meeting attendees

The WCPFC was established by the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPF Convention), which entered into force on 19 June 2004. Although primarily involved in the management of tuna stocks, the WCPFC is also responsible for a wide range of pelagic species within the Western Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO). To learn more about the work WCPFC does, click here

Mr. Fisher attended as an observer by invitation of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) and was a guest of SFP Fishery Technical Director, Dr. Geoff Tingley.

SFP is an internationally recognized NGO and a key leader in the sustainable seafood movement. Click here to learn more about SFP.

As an Observer the author was able to sit in the 3rd row back from the main WCPFC delegates and observe the actual process of Conservation Management Measures (CMMs) being discussed and planned. In overhearing the discussions on Bluefin and Albacore tuna it became apparent that there are often different agendas for the small Pacific Island members and the large industrial fishing member states.

However, Sea Delight attended WCPFC 15 with a specific goal; to ask the Commission Members to improve management advice on North Pacific swordfish and mahi mahi throughout the WCPO.

To this end, a letter was drafted and delivered to the Session Chairperson.  The author was also allowed to deliver a short statement to the Assembly. The statement below was entered into the permanent record as an intervention by an observer during the delegates discussion of the development of a management strategy for North Pacific swordfish.

“Thank you Chair,

I am Stephen Fisher, Sustainability Director for the Sea Delight Group of Companies, we import and distribute tuna, swordfish and mahi mahi into both the North American and European Union markets.

We have specific interests in North Pacific swordfish as well and pan-Pacific mahi mahi.

There is a growing market demand for sustainability assurance for all fish products as well as an imperative to support small scale fisheries.

With regard to swordfish: recognizing the progress the Commission has made for the North Pacific stock, we ask the Commission to continue to develop the Harvest Strategy, but also to urgently implement management reference points for this stock so as to address the market needs.

With regard to mahi: the same market needs for visible sustainability apply to this species. We therefore request the Commission to:

  • ensure all fishery participants are immediately required to provide catch and effort data for this species;

  • instruct the Scientific Committee to develop an appropriate stock assessment within the next three years; and

  • in advance of the delivery of the stock assessment, define precautionary management measures based on the results of the Productivity-Susceptibility Analysis reported in WCPFC–SC2–2006/EB WP–1.

We note that all stocks need reference points, but we believe these stocks need to be prioritized.

Thank you.”

Mr. Stephen Fisher addressing the meeting

After the address, the Northern Committee made an announcement that a WCPFC Management Strategy for Northern Swordfish had been completed and would be released next year. There was no mention of mahi though.

The takeaway from attending this meeting is that the Seafood Industry needs to pay more attention to the work of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) like the WCPFC. If we do not make our voices heard and raise management issues we need addressed they may never be addressed. Each member state has its own concerns and agendas as well, so Industry cooperating with government fishery agencies and attending as members of delegations is also a good option.

Sea Delight will continue to work with SFP and apply motivation to RFMOs to support sustainable fishery management. These efforts will be reported here.

Ryan Darling